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Six Little Ducklings 

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The mother looked and stared 

Six Little Duckling 

Written and Illustrated 


Author of ** Tales of Two Bunnies," 
The Christmas Angel," *' In the Green Forest," 

New York 


Copyright, 1915 
By DODD, mead & COMPANY 

Six Little Ducklings 

OLD MOTHER DUCK and her six lit- 
I tie ducklings lived in a hollow tree 
down by the river^ and here they were 
all as happy as the day was long. They had the 
whole of the broad bright river to swim about on, 
and there was no one to bother them or drive 
them about. 

Mother Duck had not always lived in the hol- 
low tree. Once she had lived in a farmyard 
back in the country and away from the river. 
But she had not been very happy there. For one 
thing, there was a very cross old watch-dog in the 
farmyard. He was kept chained to his dog- 
house through the day, and never set loose until 
the other animals had gone to bed, but he used 
to snap at the ducks and chickens whenever they 
came near his dog-house, and that frightened 


Then there was no place to swim but in a 
muddy little duck-pond that almost dried up in 
the heat of summer. 

But the worst thing of all at the farmhouse 
was the way the farmer's wife used to steal the 
duck's eggs. No matter how carefully Mrs. 
Duck hid her eggs, Mrs. Farmer always found 
them and took them away. Once she put a num- 
ber of them in a hen's nest, and allowed a hen to 
set on them. After a while the hen hatched out 
eleven of the cunningest, fuzziest, yellowest 
ducklings that ever were seen. The hen was 
just as pleased and proud as though she had laid 
the eggs herself. But she didn't in the least 
know how to bring up a brood of ducklings. 
Mrs. Duck could see that very plainly. She 
didn't even want them to get their feet wet and 
she almost had a fit when they went into the 
water one day. 

After that Mrs. Duck made up her mind she 
would not stay at the farm any longer. She 

She pointed with her wing to a farm-house 
in the distance 


started off into the wide world early one morn- 
ing without saying anything to any one, and 
waddled on and on and on until after a while 
she came to the hollow tree beside the river. 

Here she made a nest and hatched out a little 
brood for herself, and brought them up the way 
young ducklings should be brought up, and was 
very happy. 


THERE were six of the little ducklings, 
and their names, beginning with the 
eldest were, Squdge and Queek, Buff, 
Pin-Toes and Fluffy, and the littlest and cun- 
ningest one of all was named Curly Tail. 

Buff and Fluffy and Curly-Tail were girls, and 
the other three were boys. 

One fine day when the wind was blowing, and 
the leaves were rustling, and the little wood-rab- 
bits jumping high and kicking their heels for joy, 
Mother Duck told the little ducklings she was 
going to take them for a picnic. 

"Oh, goody! goody I" they cried, and clapped 
their wings for joy. 

Mother Duck got out a little basket of meadow 
grass that an old musk-rat had made for her, and 
she and the children packed it full of luncheon. 
There were crisp watercress, and wild celery, and 


How cosy it was there in the hollow tree 


little snails, and all sorts of good things such as 
little ducklings like to eat. 

As soon as the basket was packed they started 

The ducklings thought they would probably 
go down to the river, but instead of that Mother 
Duck led the way off into the wood, directly 
away from the water. 

''Where are we going, motlier"? Where are we 
going?" asked the little ducklings. But the 
mother only smiled and shook her head and 
would not tell them. 

After a while they came out of the wood and 
into a meadow-land where there was a heap of 
high rocks. 

"Here's where we'll have our picnic," said 
Mother Duck. 

She put down the basket, and unpacked the 
food, and then she and the ducklings sat down 
around it, and ate and ate. And how good it all 
tasted! Just as food always does on picnics. 


After they had all finished, and could eat no 
more, Mother Duck said, "Come .now; let us 
climb up to the top of the rocks and see what we 
can see." 

That was fun, too — clambering up over the 
rocks. The ducklings scrambled and slipped 
and queeked, and their mother helped them; so 
after a while they found themselves on the very 
tip top of the highest rock of all, and oh, how 
the wind did blow up there. 

''Now look!" said Mother Duck. ''Do you 
see over there?" and she pointed with her wing 
to a farmyard in the distance. "That is where 
I used to live." 

"Why, mother," cried the ducklings, "we 
thought you'd always lived down by the river in 
our tree!" 

"No, indeed; I lived right there in that farm- 
yard," answered their mother; and then she be- 
gan to tell them about it, and of her life there, 
and of how if she had stayed there they might 

So he got right under the rain-pipe where 
the water spouted hardest 


have had a hen for their mother instead of her. 
That seemed a horrible thing to the little duck- 
lings — that they might have had some other 
mother instead of their own. They wanted to 
know what a hen was, because of course they had 
never seen one, living where they did. Their 
mother tried to tell them, but they could not un- 
derstand very well. 

"I wouldn't like a hen for a mother," cried 
Squdge; ''but I would like to see a farmyard, and 
to hear a dog bark, and a cow moo. Do they 
make as big a noise as thunder"? Will you take 
me there some time, mother?" 

But Mother Duck told him, no indeed. It 
would be very dangerous to go back to the farm- 
yard. If the farmer and his wife saw the duck- 
lings they might catch them and shut them up in 
a coop, and never let them get away again. 

The thought of that frightened the other duck- 
lings — only Squdge said stoutly, ''She couldn't 
catch me! I can peck too hard and run too fast. 


and I wish you would take me there some time, 
mother, just to see it all/' 

Mother Duck made no answer, for looking up 
she saw that rain-clouds were gathering over 

"Hurry, children, hurry," she cried. ''There's 
going to be a storm, and we must get home before 
it begins." 

Down they scrambled in a great hurry, and 
started off through the woods as fast as they 
could, and they made such good time that they 
reached the hollow tree just as the first great 
drops began to fall. 

They were all out of breath and rather tired, 
especially Curly-Tail, but as their mother said, 
that did not really matter as long as they had 
escaped a wetting. 

Pinching it tight he began to pull 


How cosy it was there in the dry hollow 
of the tree, with the rain beating 
harder and harder outside and stream- 
ing down the tree trunks. 

After a while the ducklings got out their play- 
things and began to play with them, but soon 
they tired of this, and nestling down about their 
mother they begged her to tell them a story. 

''A story?" said Mother Duck. ''Very well. 
What shall it be about?" 

'Tell about Wiggle- Waggle- Wisk-Tail !" 
cried Squdge and Queek. 

"No, no; don't tell about that," begged Curly- 
Tail, almost in tears. "That's too sad a story, 
mother. It always makes me cry." 

"Pshaw! I wouldn't be such a baby as to cry 
over a story," cried Squdge. "Go ahead, mother ! 
Tell it, won't you?" 



The other four little ducklings wanted to hear 
it, too, so Mother Duck told Curly-Tail if she 
didn't want to listen she could run over in the 
corner and play by herself for awhile, and when 
that story was finished she could come back and 
choose another one — any one that she liked, and 
her mother would tell it next. 

So Curly-Tail, who was always sweet and obe- 
dient, went over in the corner and got out her 
doll, and began to play, while Mother Duck told 
the others the story. 

And this is the sad tale of Wiggle-Waggle- 

/ ^ 

They fell over backward on the ground 



was a very naughty little duckling. 
He quarrelled with his brothers and 
sisters, and he always wanted the best of every- 
thing for himself, and, worst of all, he was often 
disobedient to his dear good mother. Sometimes 
his mother hardly knew wkal to do, it worried her 
so to have him so naughty. 

''Over and over again Wiggle-Waggle's 
mother had told him that he must never go out 
of doors when it was raining. (You know I 
have often told you that myself, my dears,'' said 
Mother Duck. 'It is very, very bad for little 
ducks to go out in the rain. Flat water, like 
ponds and puddles and rivers, is good for them, 
but when water comes down from overhead like 



rain, or water-falls, it is very bad for them. 
Sometimes they get drowned in it.) 

''One day it began to rain and rain and rain 
around Wiggle- Waggle-Wisk-Tail's house. 

''His mother was very busy that day. She did 
not have time to watch over the children, but she 
never thought any of them would be foolish 
enough to go out in the rain. She had told them 
too often about the danger of it. 

"But Wiggle- Waggle- Wisk-Tail would not 
believe anything that any one told him. He 
waited until his brothers and sisters were busy 
over their play, and then he slipped away very 
quietly, and out into the rain. 

"Oh, how good it felt. He raised his bill and 
caught greedily at the drops as they fell. 

" 'It's wet,' said Wiggle-Waggle-Wisk-Tail 
to himself, 'but it isn't wet enough.' 

"Just around the corner a rain-pipe came down 
from the roof of the farmhouse. The rain 
roared down it and spouted out like a waterfall. 

Out from under the bank 
swam old Mrs. Muskrat 


" 'Whew ! This is the wettest thing I ever 
saw I' cried Wiggle- Waggle. 1 guess this is the 
place for me!' 

''So he got right under the rain pipe where the 
water spouted hardest. It felt good on his back, 
and he held up his head, and opened his beak, 
and swallowed the water as fast as he could. 
Then he was wet inside as well as out— wet 
enough at last. 

'' If only mother could see me now, he giggled 
to himself. 

"So he swallowed, and swallowed^ and swal- 
lowed until after awhile he was so full of water 
that he burst, just like a balloon that has been 
blown too full of air; and that was the end of 

"Not till the rain was over did his mother find 
he was not at home. Then she came out to look 
for him, but she could not find him. She called 
and called him but he did not answer and he 
did not come. He never came home. 


'Then his mother wept for him, and his broth- 
ers and sisters wept for him, but they never saw 
Wiggle-Waggle-Wisk-Tail again, because he 
was lying under the rain pipe all burst/' 

That was the sad story of Wiggle-Waggle- 
Wisk-Tail that always made Curly-Tail cry. 
Not until it was ended would she come out of 
the corner, but when she did come and it was 
her turn to choose a story she chose a very dif- 
ferent sort of one for her mother to tell — for 
she chose a funny story that made all the little 
ducklings laugh and laugh. 

But the mother liked to tell them about Wig- 
gle-Waggle-Wisk-Tail every now and then. 
She thought the story was a good lesson for them. 

He determined to come up and live 
in the wood where it was dryer 


THE rain rained itself out in the night, 
and the next morning, when the little 
ducklings awoke, they found, to their 
glee, that the sun was shining bright and clear. 
That meant they could go down to the river for 
a swim as usual. 

Very soon after breakfast the whole family 
started for the river. The ducklings ran ahead, 
while Mother Duck waddled after them. 
Only Curly-Tail stayed by her mother's side, 
walking beside her, and holding to a fold 
of her skirt. She always liked to be close to 

''Don't go in the water until I get there, chil- 
dren," Mother Duck called after the others as 
they ran ahead. 

''No, mother, we won't," answered the duck- 



Squdge was a large, stout, active duckling. 
He could run faster than any of the others, and 
so he was the first to reach the river bank. There 
he began looking about for any tid-bits he could 
find in the way of a fat beetle, a grass-hopper or 
a tadpole. He was a very greedy duckling. 
Often and often his mother was obliged to tell 
him not to be so greedy, but to share things with 
his little brothers and sisters, but he was not al- 
ways willing to do this. 

Now as he peered about with his bright black 
eyes he suddenly espied near the mud-bank a lit- 
tle round hole, and just showing over the edge 
of the hole was what looked like the tail of a 
particularly fine, fat worm. 

''Oh, ho!" thought Squdge to himself. 
"Here's a fine fat morsel. I'll just pull it out 
and eat it before any of the others come to share 
it with me." 

With his broad little beak he made a dive at 
the tail, and pinching it tight he began to pull. 

She gave one to Fluffy and one 
to Curly-tail 


Now the tail did not belong to a worm at all, 
but to a little brown snake that had been lying 
there in the hole (which was its home) fast 

When it felt some unseen thing nipping its 
tail and holding it, it was terribly frightened. 
It began to pull and struggle, trying to get loose, 
and Squdge kept pulling and trying to get it out. 
It must be a wonderfully fine fat worm to pull so 
hard, he thought, and the more it pulled the more 
determined he was to have it. 

Before he could get it out, however, Queek and 
the others saw him, and up they ran, eager for a 
share of anything he might have caught. 

They, too, seized hold of the tail and began to 
pull. All of them together were too strong for 
the snake. It had to come. Out they dragged 
it, out and out, longer and longer. Last of all 
its head slipped out from the hole. Then it 
twisted around, hissing with fright. 

When the ducklings saw what they had caught 


— that it was not a worm but a snake — they 
were so terrified that they fell over backward 
on the ground and lay there, afraid to move. 
They dared not even look to see whether the 
snake had gone or was making ready to swallow 
them. If they had only known it, it had been 
just as much frightened as they, and as soon as it 
was free it had slipped away into the water to 
nurse its pinched tail in quiet. 

They were still lying there when their mother 
and Curly-Tail reached the place. At first 
Mother Duck did not know what had happened 
to them; she was afraid they were hurt or sick. 
But when she had helped them to their feet, and 
found they were only frightened and not hurt at 
all she began to laugh at them. 

''But now you see, children," she said more 
seriously, ''what comes of being greedy. If you 
hadn't been in such a hurry to catch the worm 
and gobble it down you would have waited till 
I came, and I could soon have told you it 

Around from the other side of the burdock 
came a great grey feathery creature 


was not a worm you had found, but a snake." 
The little ducks felt quite ashamed of them- 
selves. They felt they had acted in a very silly 
and greedy manner. Moreover, they felt quite 
sad, for their mother said they were so hot and 
frightened she could not allow them to go into 
the water just yet. They would have to sit on 
the bank for a while and cool off. 

Then she took Curly-Tail down to a shallow 
place in the river and caught a nice little tad- 
pole for her, while her brothers and sisters had 
to sit in a row along the bank and look on. 

It was not very long, however, before their 
mother called to them that they could come, and 
the little ducklings ran joyously down the slope 
and slipped off into the water. There they pad- 
dled up and down, and stood on their heads, and 
ran water races with each other as merrily as ever, 
their adventure with the snake quite forgotten. 

WHEN the ducklings stayed at home 
instead of going to the river (that 
was when it was too cold and stormy 
for them to swim) they had a number of toys to 
play with. Squdge and Queek had a little cart, 
and they had a tame beetle that they had trained 
to pull it. Sometimes they gave the dolls a ride 
in the cart. There w^re two dolls ; one belonged 
to Fluffy, and one belonged to Curly-Tail. Mrs. 
Muskrat had made the dolls for them ; — the same 
old muskrat who had made the picnic basket for 
their mother. The dolls were made of two old 
gnarled pieces of root that Mrs. Muskrat had 
gnawed and shaped with her sharp teeth until 
they looked just like two little wooden duck- 

Fluffy and Curly-Tail loved these two little 



The two fowls were pleased to see each other 


duckling dolls better than anything they had; 
they dressed and undressed them, and took them 
to bed with them at night, and sometimes even 
took them down to the river with them. 

The other ducklings often wished they had 
dolls, too, but Mrs. Muskrat had only made the 
two, one for Fluffy, and one for Curly-Tail. 
The v/ay she had happened to make the dolls for 
them and not for the others was this : 

One day the duck family had gone down to 
the river for their usual swim, and afterward 
Mother Duck felt very sleepy. She sat down on 
the bank in the warm sun, and all the little 
ducklings sat around her, and blinked and 
blinked, and after a while they all went to sleep. 
The ducklings were the first to waken. They 
opened their eyes and stirred about, and pres- 
ently they said, ''Mother, may we go up the river 
bank a little way?" For they were tired of stay- 
ing in one place. 

Mother Duck was too sleepy to do more than 


open her eyes a tiny crack. ''Yes; only don't go 
too far, and don't go in the water." 

The little ducks promised they wouldn't, and 
then they ran merrily away together. 

Soon they came to a place where the bank was 
quite high and overhung the water. Here they 
began to amuse themselves by pushing bits of 
mud and pebbles over into the water to make a 

Presently they heard something stirring and 
rustling down there beneath. They stopped and 
listened and looked. Squdge and Pin-Toes 
even crept to the edge of the bank and leaned 
far over trying to see what was there. Fluffy 
was afraid if they did not take care they might 
fall into the river. 

Suddenly out from under the bank swam old 
Mrs. Muskrat. Her house was just exactly un- 
der were the ducklings were standing, though 
they had not known it. She had been busy fin- 
ishing her housework and now she was starting 


Instead of taking it Bright Eyes 
looked quite disgusted 


out on some errand she had down the river. She 
always swam when she wanted to go anywhere. 
She could go more quickly and safely that way 
than by land. She had on a calico dress and a 
white apron, and a pair of big spectacles were 
on her nose. (All her clothes were w^aterproof, 
and shed off the water just the way a duck's 
feathers do.) She looked so funny with her nose 
almost under water and her dress bunching up, 
and her tail dragging behind her, that some of 
the ducklings began to laugh. 

''Oh don't laugh," begged Fluffy, who was a 
very polite little duckling. ''She might hear 

"No she won't; she can't hear us down there," 
said Queek. 

"I don't care whether she does or not," cried 
Squdge, "she's so funny looking." And he 
laughed till he almost fell over. 

Then all the other ducklings began to laugh, 
too; — all except Fluffy and Curly-Tail. Fluffy 


and Curly-Tail did not laugh. They were trou- 
bled to think their brothers and sister could be- 
have so rudely, and to an older animal. To be 
sure Mrs. Muskrat never looked round to see who 
they were, and that was some comfort. 

Now as it happened the old muskrat did not 
have to look round in order to see them, though 
the ducklings did not know that. When the light 
shone on her spectacles it made them just like 
looking-glasses, and she could see in them what 
was happening behind her. She saw, in her spec- 
tacles, that Squdge was laughing and pointing at 
her. She saw the others laughing, too, all except 
Fluffy and Curly-Tail, and she saw that those 
two did not laugh, but looked worried and sorry. 
She saw all this, but she did not take any notice 
of it. She just swam quietly on down the river 
and out of sight. 

But two or three days afterward an old toad 
knocked at the hollow tree and said he had a 
message for Mrs. Duck. 

The chicks huddled together on the leaf 
while the ducklings pulled it 


This toad had been living down by the river 
for some time, but it was so damp there that it 
had given him rheumatism, so he had determined 
to come up and live in the wood where it was 

Mrs. Muskrat had heard of this, and so she 
asked him, as he would be going past the hollow 
tree to leave a message there for her. 

This was the message. She wanted Mother 
Duck to send the two little ducklings who hadn't 
laughed at her the other day down to see her. 
It was about something very important. 

'That's me and Curly-Tail, mother! We 
were the ones who didn't laugh," cried Fluffy. 
"But what do you s'pose she wants with us, 

"I don't know, but you had better go and see." 

The two little ducklings were not very anxious 
to do this. They felt very shy about going all 
alone down the river to make a visit. 

'Til go," said Squdge. "I don't mind." 


''No indeed you won't go," said the mother. 
''You've been too naughty. Mrs. Muskrat 
doesn't want to see any little duckling that has 
been as rude to her as you have been." At last 
she told Fluffy and Curly-Tail that she herself 
would go part of the way with them. 

She took them down within sight of the musk- 
rat's house, and then she sent them on alone. 

Fluffy and Curly-Tail walked on very slowly, 
often stopping to look back at their mother as she 
stood there watching them. 

"Will you knock when we get there, Curly- 
Tail ?" asked Fluff y. 

"No, you knock." 

"No, I don't like to ; you knock." 

But as it turned out neither of them had to 
knock at Mrs. Muskrat's door, for when they 
reached her house she was on the lookout for 
them. She came out smiling, and looking quite 
friendly and pleasant in spite of her long rat 

The ducklings stood looking on in dismay 


''So you are the two little ducklings who didn't 
laugh at me the other day," she said. ''That's 
right! That's right! I like little animals when 
they are polite and respectful. Now I have a 
present for you that I think you'll like." 

She went back into the house, and when she 
came out again she carried the two little duckling 
dolls. "Here; these are for you," she said, and 
she gave one to Fluffy and one to Curly-Tail. 

The little ducklings could hardly believe their 
eyes. They had never seen anything so cunning 
and pretty before. "But they're not for us?'' 
they cried. "Not really T 

"Yes they are," said Mrs. Muskrat, smiling, 
and looking almost as pleased as they. 

The two little ducklings hardly knew how to 
thank her enough. Then they were eager to 
show the dolls to their mother. They said good- 
bye to the muskrat, and ran back to where Mother 
Duck was waiting for them, "Look, mother! 
Look! Look!" they cried. 


Mrs. Duck took the dolls and examined them. 

"Why, yes, they are very beautiful," she said. 
''Wasn't Mrs. Muskrat good to give you such 
wonderful presents. You must be very careful 
not to break them." 

"Oh, yes, we will ! We will I" cried the happy 
little ducklings. 

When they got back to the tree, and the others 
saw the beautiful presents Mrs. Muskrat had 
given them they wished they hadn't laughed at 
her either; then perhaps she would have given 
them dolls too. But it was too late for wishing 
that now. 

The old duck carried the chick safely 
over to her mother 



"^'UL race you down to the big burdock, 
Queek," said Squdge one day, as he and 
the others started out for the river with 
Mother Duck. 

"All right." 

"Let's all race," cried BufF, who could run al- 
most as fast as her brothers. 

"Very well," said Queek; "only we'll have to 
give Fluffy and Curly-Tail a start, because they 
can't run as fast as we can." 

So Fluffy and Curly-Tail went some distance 
down the path, and then Squdge shouted "Go!" 
and away they all raced. 

"Wait for me at the burdocks!" their mother 
called after them. "Don't go down to the river 
without me." But the ducklings were racing 
too hard to stop to answer her. 



The little ducks all reached the burdocks at 
about the same time, though Squdge was a little 
ahead. They were so out of breath that they 
were glad to drop down in the shadow to get 
cooled off while they waited for their mother. 

Suddenly, as they sat there, they heard, back 
of the burdocks, a curious scratching and rust- 
ling, and a something that sounded like ''Cluck! 
cluck! cluck!" 

''What's that, Squdge?" whispered Queek. 

"I don't know what it is." 

"I'm scared," said Buff, "it sounds so queer. 
Let's run back and find mother." 

The ducklings jumped up, but before they 
could run away, around from the other side of 
the burdock came a great grey, feathery creature, 
with hard, bright eyes and a sharp beak. She 
was followed by a brood of little, downy, yellow 
young ones that seemed to be her children. As 
soon as the young ones saw the ducklings they 
stopped and stared at them wonderingly. 

So the two fowls said good-bye 
to each, other and parted 


''Cluck! cluck!" cried the mother. "What 
have we here? Ducklings I do believe." Then 
as Squdge seemed about to come toward her she 
ruffled her feathers angrily. ''Don't you come 
any nearer," she cried, "if you do I'll peck you. 
I don't allow any strange animals to come near 
my children." 

The ducklings were quite frightened at her 
angry looks. They were about to turn and run 
away, when to their joy they saw their mother 
coming around a bend in the path. 

As soon as Mother Duck saw a stranger talk- 
ing to her children she hurried forward. Then 
when she came a little nearer she gave a quack of 

"Why, Mrs. Henny Penny!" she cried. "Is 
that you ? Wherever did you come from?" 

"Well I declare if it isn't Mrs. Duck!" re- 
plied the hen. "I brought the children out for 
a walk, and we've come further than we expected. 
I'm sure I never thought I'd find you here." 


The two fowls were so pleased to see each 
other that they both began talking at once, ask- 
ing questions, and givings answers, while the lit- 
tle ones listened wonderingly. 

''I suppose you're still living at the farm," 
said the duck. ''And these are your little ones, 
are they? What fine chicks they are." 

''You have some fine children, yourself," an- 
swered the hen, much pleased. "How exactly 
they look like you." 

"They're very good children, on the whole," 
said the duck, "only sometimes they're rather 
naughty, and I have to scold them a little. But 
how are all the things at the farmyard? The 
geese and the turkeys and the guinea-fowls? 
And old Mr. Tige ? Is he alive still ? My, my ! 
What a cross dog he was." 

The hen said yes, he was. "He's alive still, and 
crosser than ever. Why the other day old Mrs. 
Speckeldy Hen just happened to go too near his 
dog house, and he jumped right out at her and 

Now, children, I am going to market," she said 


pulled out a whole mouthful of tail feathers!" 

"My!" cried the duck. "Wasn't that awful'? 
What did Mr. Rooster say?" 

"Why he said— " 

Just then the duck noticed that all the little 
ones were standing about and listening with open 

"Now, children, don't stand there listening," 
she cried. "You know I don't like you to listen 
when older creatures are talking. Run on down 
to the river, and take these nice little chicks along 
with you — only don't go in till I come. Perhaps 
you might catch them a tadpole or so." 

"Yes, run along," said the hen. "We'll be 
along in a minute. Be sure you don't get your 
feet wet, children." 

That seemed to the ducklings a funny thing 
for any one to say — "Don't get your feet wet," — 
but they and the chicks started off together, and 
ran on gaily down the path toward the river, 
while the older fowls followed more slowly. 


As soon as the little ones reached the river 
Squdge, who had taken a great fancy to a little 
chicken named Bright-Eyes, ran down to a shal- 
low where the tad-poles lived, and caught a nice 
fat one, and brought it to her in his beak. In- 
stead of taking it, however. Bright Eyes looked 
quite disgusted. 

*'Ugh!" she cried. ''Take it way. The nasty 

''Nasty!" cried Squdge with surprise. "Why 
it's good. Haven't you ever eaten a tadpole 

"No, and I don't want to eat one now, 

All the other chickens said the same, so Squdge 
ate the tadpole himself, and very good it tasted 
to him, too. 

"I'll tell you what," said Queek; "I don't be- 
lieve mother* would mind if we went in here 
where the water is shallow, and had a swim. It's 
deep enough if we hold up our legs." 

On and on they went, leaping and snatching 


''But we don't know how to swim," cried the 

Not know how to swim ! The ducklings could 
hardly believe it. ''Why, what do you do when 
you go in the water?" they asked. 

"We don't go in the water!" 

The ducklings stared at them with pity and 
surprise. They had never heard of such a thing 
as not going in the water. Then Squdge had a 
bright idea. "I know!" he cried; "let's give the 
chicks a ride on the river. We'll get a big leaf 
and have it for a boat, and then the chicks can 
get on it, and we'll pull it." 

The chicks did not like the idea very much. 
They were afraid. But the ducklings were so 
eager about it that they hardly knew how to say 

Squdge found a big leaf and he and the others 
nipped it off with their sharp beaks, and pulled 
it down into the river. "Now get on it," they 
shouted joyously. 


"But we're afraid/' whimpered the chicks. 

"Oh, come on! it won't hurt you. You'll just 
love it, it's such fun." 

Timidly the chicks stepped onto the leaf, and 
huddled together in the middle of it while the 
ducklings pulled it out into the stream. 

"Faster, faster," cried Squdge, holding the 
stem with his beak, and swimming as hard as he 
could. "Here! Take it around this rock." 

The water washed over the leaf, and the chick- 
ens shrieked with fear. A moment later the boat 
caught on a ledge and at once tilted over so that 
the chickens were upset into the water. 

"Oh I oh I" cried Buff. "Look what we've 

The ducklings hurried to the help of the chicks, 
and pushing and pulling they managed to get 
them up on the rock where they were safe. 

The chickens were dripping wet however and 
so frightened they hardly knew where they were. 
"Oh! oh!" they wept. "We'll be drowned! We 

" Well, you can come along with me 
and I'll show it to you" 


want to go home. Oh I Boo-hool Boo-hool" 

The ducklings stood looking on in dismay, not 
knowing what to do or say. 

At this moment a shriek sounded from the 
bank. ''Oh, my chicks! my chicks!" 

The duck and the hen had reached the river 
side, and the hen had seen her chickens far out on 
a rock, wet and shivering with fear. "Oh what 
shall I do! What shall I do," she shrieked. 
''They can never get back." 

"Yes they can, too; now don't you be so wor- 
ried," said the duck. "I'll bring them back." 

"But you can't; I know you can't. How can 

"Why, easily enough. I'll swim out to them, 
and they can sit on my back, and I'll carry them 

"But you'll spill them off. I'm sure you will." 

"No I won't either. I'll bring one at a time. 
Now just you watch." 

The duck slipped off into the water, and soon 


reached the rock where the chicks were standing. 
At first she had a great deal of trouble in getting 
any one of them to climb up on her back. They 
were afraid of slipping off into the water; but 
presently Bright-Eyes ventured to scramble up 
and snuggle down against Mother Duck's 
neck. As soon as she was settled there the 
old duck sailed out on the water and car- 
ried the little chick safely over to her 

When the other two chicks saw that Bright- 
Eyes was safe on shore they were eager to 
clamber upon the duck's back and have her carry 
them over, too. 

Oh, how thankful the hen was when she had 
her chicks back on dry land again. She felt so 
happy and thankful that she hardly knew what 
to say to the duck. 

'If it hadn't been for you they would all have 
been drowned," she cried. 

"Yes, but if it hadn't been for my children they 

There lay old Tige in the sunshine fast asleep 


wouldn't have been out there at all/' replied the 

She wanted the hen to bring the chickens up to 
the hollow tree to rest and get dry, but this 
the hen would not do. There was nothing she 
wished so much now as to get her chicks safe 
home again. She made up her mind that never, 
never would she venture away from the farm- 
yard again — at least until the chicks were old 
enough and big enough to take care of them- 

So the two fowls said good-bye to each other 
and parted, and then Mother Duck took her chil- 
dren home again without allowing them to go in 
for another swim. They had indeed been very 
naughty and disobedient little ducklings, and 
Mother Duck told them that for a punishment 
they would not be allowed to go dowi^ to the 
river again for three whole days. 

That was indeed a sad thing for the little 
ducks. They almost cried over it. But then it 


might have been worse. She might have told 
them they couldn't go back again for a week. 
They had been naughty enough almost to deserve 
even that. 

With a bound and a roar be was 
up and at the chicken 


ONE day Mother Duck got up bright and 
early, and put on her bonnet and her 
shawl, and took a market basket on her 

''Now, children, I'm going to market," she said. 
''Don't go out of sight of home while I'm 
away, and don't go down to the river, and don't 
talk with any stranger animals." 

And all the little ducklings answered, "No, 

Then the old duck put on her bonnet and her 
shawl, and took her basket on her arm and started 

For awhile after she had gone the little ducks 
played about close to the hollow tree, and then 
they wandered a little further off, and then they 
began to see how far they could go without losing 
sight of home. 



'1 wish mother would hurry back," said 
Squdge at last, 'Tm getting hungry. Wouldn't 
a tadpole or some water-cress taste good now!" 

"Indeed it would," said Queek. ''Or even a 
beetle if we could find one." 

Just as Queek said that a bright long-tailed fly 
flew close by over Buff's head. ''Catch it, catch 
it. Buff!" cried Queek. 

Buff made a jump and missed it, though his 
beak just grazed its tail. 

"Catch it!" cried Squdge, starting after it with 
leaps and bounds; and — "Catch it! catch it!" 
cried the others, running after him as fast as they 
could. Their mother's words were all forgotten. 

On and on they went, leaping and snatching, 
and sometimes falling over each other in their 
hurry. At last their chase led them out into a 
road, and then the fly rose straight up over their 
heads, up and up until it was lost to sight in the 
sunlit air. The ducklings stood gaping after it 


''Hey there, you young 'uns! What do you 
think you're doing?" asked a rough voice. 

The ducklings started. 

Before them, in the road, stood a ragged, impu- 
dent-looking, half-grown chicken. 

''What do you think you're doing?" he asked 

"Oh, if you please, sir, we were trying to catch 
a fly," answered Queek rather timidly. 

"A fly I What did you want to catch a fly 

"We thought we'd eat it." 

"Eat it! Eat a fly? Haven't you any corn or 
bread or things of that kind at home?" 

Queek shook his head. "We don't know what 
corn is, or bread either." 

''Dont know what they are! Why, at the 
farmyard where I live the farmer's wife comes 
out twice a day and gives us all we can eat. 
Sometimes she gives us a dish of curds, too ; or a 
meat bone to pick. Though mostly we have to 


share our meat bones with the watch-dog. He's 
a great friend of mine, old Mr. Tige is. He'd 
let me have his bones any time if I wanted them." 

"Mr. Tige!" cried Squdge. "Why, that's the 
name of the watch-dog at the farm where our 
mother used to live. Where is your farmyard?" 

"Oh, over there," said the chicken, pointing 
with his wing. "Who is your mother, anyway?" 

The ducklings told him who their mother was, 
and where they lived, and all about themselves. 

They, in turn, asked him about the farmyard. 

"I'm just sure that's where our mother used to 
live," said Buff. "Oh, how I wish we could see 

"Well, you can. Come along with me, and I'll 
show it to you." 

"All right," cried Squdge and Queek. 

The other four ducklings were afraid they 
oughtn't to go, but Squdge and Queek were so 
eager to, and so unwilling to turn back, that after 
a while the others, too, agreed to go on to the 

On and on ran the chicken, and on 
and on ran the ducklings 


farmyard. The ragged chicken led the way, and 
they all followed. 

As they went the chicken's talk was all about 
himself and the farmyard. He told them of how 
much the farmer's wife thought of him, and about 
his friend the turkey-cock, and about old Tige. 

*'Why," he cried, '1 don't know what Tige 
would do if anything was to happen to me. I 
guess he'd just break his chain and come out to 
look for me." 

The ducklings thought the chicken must be a 
very important person indeed for every one to 
be so fond of him. 

After a while they came to a high board fence. 
The chicken slipped through a hole, and the duck- 
lings followed him, and at once they were in the 

Once inside they looked about them wonder- 
ingly. Not far from them a hen was busily 
scratching for a brood of chickens. At first they 
thought it must be the hen they had met down by 


the river, but then they saw that this was a larger, 
darker hen. A cock on the dung-hill crowed loud 
and clear, and the ducklings started. ''What's 
that?" asked Squdge in a frightened voice. 

"That? Oh, that's nothing. That's just a 
rooster crowing. Didn't you ever hear one be- 

Over in a sunny corner were four great moving, 
breathing things, lifted far, far up in the air on 
great thick legs. ''And what are those?" asked 
Squdge, pointing at them. 

"Cows. Didn't you ever see cows before? 
Oh, my! You certainly don't know much," said 
the chicken scornfully. 

The little ducklings looked at the cows with 
awe. Any one of those great feet, if it happened 
to tread on them would crush them as easily as 
though they were beetles or tadpoles. 

"And where's your friend, Mr. Tige?" 

"Old Tige?" said the chicken, hesitatingly. 
"Well, you see he may be asleep. If he is I 


wouldn't like to waken him. He has to bark so 
much in the night that sometimes he's very tired 
in the day-time." 

"But can't we just see what he looks like?" 

"Well — come on; maybe I can show you. He 
lives in that dog house over there." 

The chicken led the way toward the dog house, 
and the ducklings followed him. He walked on 
his tip-toes, and kept whispering to the ducklings 
not to make a noise. They might almost have 
thought that he was afraid of Tige if he hadn't 
told them he wasn't. 

They reached the dog house and peeped around 
the corner of it. There, sure enough, lay old 
Tige in the sunshine, fast asleep. He was a big, 
fierce looking brindled dog. Now and then he 
twitched his ear or moved his paw in his dreams. 
It frightened the ducklings even to look at him. 

When the chicken saw the dog was asleep he 
grew much bolder. "Yes, there he is, fast asleep, 
just like I told you," he said. "Do you see that 


bone there by his nose? If he was only awake 
I'd ask him to give it to you. He would do it I 
know, if / asked him." 

Just then the great dog woke and opened one 
eye a little, but the chicken did not notice that, 
he was so busy boasting to the ducklings. 

Now the dog was not really a friend of the 
chicken at all. In fact he hated it. It was al- 
ways creeping up and trying to steal his food. 
Again and again he had tried to catch it, but al- 
ways it kept just out of reach. But now it had 
come so near, that it almost seemed as though, 
with one bound he could grab it. Very, very 
quietly he drew himself together, without the 
chicken's noticing it, and then suddenly with a 
bound and a roar he was up and at the chicken. 
He would have caught it; too, if his chain had 
only been a little longer. As it was his teeth just 
grazed its feathers. 

The chicken gave a wild squawk, and fled with 
spread wings toward the hole in the fence. The 

He gave them one scornful 
look and stalked away 


ducklings tumbled after it, almost scared out of 
their wits. 

The chicken squeezed through the hole and 
rushed on down the road, and the little ducks, 
too, squeezed through the hole and ran after it. 

On and on ran the chicken, and on and on ran 
the ducklings. For all they knew the dog might 
have broken his chain and be close at their 

After a while they came to the river and could 
go no further. But it was a part of the river that 
the ducklings had never seen before. Here the 
chicken turned on them angrily. 

''Why don't you go home^" he cried. ''Why 
do you keep following me? I don't want you. 
Go home I tell you." 

''But we don't know how to get home," cried 
the ducklings, and Curly-Tail began to cry. 

"Well, I don't care where you go, only don't 
keep following me because I won't have it. I'm 
tired of you." 


''We won't; we won't follow you if you'll just 
tell us how to get home." 

''No, I won't tell you. I'm going back to the 
farmyard. It must be feeding time now. And 
don't you dare to come too. If you do I'll peck 

The chicken was angry because the ducklings 
had seen him frightened, and because they had 
found out he was not a friend of the dog after all. 

"Oh, what shall we do! We're lost! We're 
lost!" wept the ducklings. 

But the chicken paid no attention to them. 
He gave them one scornful look, and then he 
stuck his wings in his pockets, and stalked away 
up the road, leaving them alone. 

And now the poor little ducklings were very 
miserable indeed. They all wept bitter tears. 
Even Squdge began to cry. "Oh, if we could 
only get home," they wept, "we'd never, never 
run away again, but always be good obedient 
little ducklings." 


Suddenly Queek, who had dried his eyes for a 
moment, looked up the river and gave a cry of 


''Look! Look!" he shouted. 

The ducklings stared through their tears, and 
then they began to clap their wings and shout for 
joy. There, sailing quietly down the river, in 
her shawl and bonnet, her basket on her arm, 
came their own dear mother. 

''Mother! Mother!" they shouted all to- 
gether. "Here we are, mother ! Come quick !" 

The mother looked and stared and then came 
sailing over toward the bank. She could hardly 
believe her eyes. 

"Why, children, whatever are you doing 
here*?" she cried. 

"Oh, we ran away from home, and we got lost, 
but if you'll only take us back we'll never be 
naughty disobedient little ducks again." 

They had indeed been very naughty to run 
away when their mother had told them not to, but 


they looked so frightened and sorrowful that she 
had not the heart to scold them. 

''Wtll, well! We won't talk about it now/' 
she said. 'Terhaps you've been punished 
enough as it is by being so frightened. Slip 
down into the river and I'll take you home this 

So the ducklings slid down into the water and 
sailed away at their mother's side, and it was not 
long before they came within sight of their own 
dear home-landing and the hollow tree beyond. 
Then what thankful and happy little ducklings 
they were ! 

''Mother," said Squdge solemnly, 'Tm never, 
never going to be naughty again. I'm always go- 
ing to do exactly what you tell me to do." 

And all the other little ducklings said the same. 

''Well, I'm glad to hear that," said their 
mother. "What a happy family we will be if I 
never have to scold you any more." 

But of course the little ducklings were naughty 

They sailed away at their mother's side 


sometimes^ even after that; but they were good 
enough for their mother to feel that on the whole 
her little ducklings were the dearest, sweetest, 
cunningest little ducklings in all the world — to 
her at least. 


University of 





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